/may 22, 2019

Application Security Best Practices

By Kerin Sikorski

Kudos to you if you are already implementing some level of application security; however, no matter what stage of AppSec maturity your organization is at, your program may still have room for improvement. Since 2006, we’ve been helping customers build out AppSec programs big and small, and in the process, we’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t. To help you take your program to the next level, we’ve put together this guide of AppSec best practices.

The guide outlines a few areas where you can focus to make impactful improvements, including the following:

Take Advantage of Integrations

We recommend fixing vulnerabilities earlier in the SDLC by integrating with Veracode’s plugins, wrappers, and APIs. By installing available plug-ins or leveraging standard Veracode APIs and wrappers, you can establish seamless, reciprocal data exchanges between our platform and your development teams’ IDEs, build systems, bug tracking databases, and other systems. This allows you to ease the friction and silos among teams, reduce context-switch cost for developers, as well as help developers to discover and fix security findings earlier and faster, reducing cost and time.

Shift Left for Security Success 

The more you can make code secure during development, the more you can maximize velocity later by reducing the number of security flaws that developers and operations must fix at the end of the process. By shifting security left, your teams can embed security into the software development process as they create code, checking for and removing vulnerabilities before they emerge instead of after the fact. According to NIST, flaws fixed during coding can reduce costs by as much as six times compared to making the exact same fix in production.

Vary Your Application Testing Methods

A strategy that’s overly reliant on just one testing type can leave software vulnerable while providing organizations with a false sense of security. Don’t believe claims that any single type of test is better than another; each has its own strengths and weaknesses. It takes a balanced approach to properly evaluate and mitigate risks. Understand the scope and coverage of each assessment technology to round out your program.

Always Be Scanning

There’s a strong correlation between how often an organization scans and how quickly they address their vulnerabilities. When creating a scan strategy, it’s important to prioritize frequent scans of small builds over one big scan of a large build. This allows your developers to make gradual, continuous improvements to the security of your software when the code is still fresh in their minds and easier to fix. It’s important to keep in mind scanning is just one piece of the puzzle; you must fix what you find in order to have an effective AppSec program.

Never Stop Learning

AppSec is always evolving, with new solutions and new vulnerabilities popping up regularly. And with the increased speed of development, plus security shifting “left,” developers need to catch security-related defects on their own as often as possible. But, most developers have had no opportunities to learn secure coding, in school or on the job. Education and training can provide some of your greatest security ROI: According to our research, eLearning improved developer fix rates by 19 percent while remediation coaching improved fix rates by 88 percent.  

We know that AppSec isn’t a one-size-fits-all program; however, from our observations, these are some of the common best practices implemented by successful AppSec programs. For more tips on how to strengthen your AppSec program, read our Application Security Best Practices Handbook.

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By Kerin Sikorski

Kerin is a Marketing Program Manager for Veracode responsible for Customer Communication and Engagement. She strives to provide our customers with industry news and educational content around application security best practices through such things as the Veracode Customer Insider and webinar programs.